Franz T. Schwarz


  • Vice Chair, International Arbitration Practice Group

Franz Schwarz focuses on complex multi-jurisdictional disputes. He has extensive experience with arbitral practice, procedure and advocacy both in civil and common law systems.

Mr. Schwarz has been involved in more than 250 arbitrations as counsel and arbitrator, both ad-hoc and before all major arbitral institutions (including ICC, LCIA, Vienna and Stockholm), at multiple seats and governed by a broad variety of substantive and procedural laws. He has a particular focus on joint venture, M&A, financial services, project finance, as well as commercial and corporate disputes.

Mr. Schwarz regularly counsels clients on conflict of laws issues and international enforcement of arbitration awards and judgments, including against state entities, and frequently advises parties on the protection of foreign investments under bilateral investment treaties and similar instruments.

Mr. Schwarz frequently serves as arbitrator, including as chairman of arbitral tribunals, and is included on the roster of several major arbitral institutions.

Publications and Speaking Engagements

Mr. Schwarz is a regular speaker on international arbitration topics, and teaches international arbitration at the University of Zurich, the Europainstitut in Saarbrücken and the Vienna University School of Economics. 

Mr. Schwarz has also published extensively on topical issues of arbitration law. He is the co-author of The Vienna Rules—A Commentary on International Arbitration in Austria (Kluwer Law International 2009, 2nd edition forthcoming).

Professional Activities

Mr. Schwarz currently serves as Vice President of the Vienna International Arbitration Centre and a member of the Executive Board of the Swiss Arbitration Association. In 2020, he was designated by the Republic of Austria to serve as a member of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes Panel of Conciliators. He is also a member of the IBA Arbitration Sub-Committee on the New York Convention; the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, LCIA, DIS and the Swiss and Austrian Arbitration Associations. From 2003 to 2007, Mr. Schwarz served on the Executive Board of the American Arbitration Association's ICDR Young & International Arbitration program, which he co-founded.

  • Contractual Performance and COVID-19 – An In-depth Comparative Law Analysis

    WilmerHale and Wolters Kluwer are delighted to launch a new and in-depth comparative legal analysis of the impact of the pandemic on contractual performance in key civil and common law jurisdictions. The site examines whether and under what circumstances COVID-19-related impediments may excuse contractual performance or lead to modification or termination; and addresses a wide variety of legal concepts, such as impossibility, impracticability, frustration of purpose, force majeure, hardship or imprévision, and clausula rebus sic stantibus.

    Read More
  • Who's Who Legal: Arbitration Recognizes 22 WilmerHale Lawyers in 2020 Edition

    The 2020 edition of Who's Who Legal: Arbitration has recognized 22 WilmerHale lawyers for their industry-leading experience in international arbitration. Partner Franz Schwarz, who is named among the top “Thought Leaders,” is described as “an excellent lawyer and arbitrator” who is “very creative, fair and balanced” in his approach.

    December 17, 2019
    Read More


  • Mr. Schwarz led the the Firm’s representation of client Swatch Group in an international arbitration against Tiffany. In December 2013, the tribunal found that Tiffany had breached a long-term cooperation agreement with Swatch Group, that those breaches were material and that Swatch Group was entitled to prematurely terminate the cooperation. The tribunal proceeded to award Swatch Groups lost profits in the amount of USD $480 million, and it dismissed counterclaims by Tiffany for USD $500 million. The decision has attracted global news coverage, from the US to the UK (see e.g. the Wall Street JournalNew York Times and Financial Times) to Germany and Switzerland (see e.g. Der Spiegel and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung).

    Recently, Mr. Schwarz also secured a significant victory for a major consumer goods company in a dispute involving a failed strategic alliance (under ICC Rules, sited in London, with German law applying); a significant victory for a media company in a joint venture dispute in Germany, under DIS Rules; as well as a favorable outcome for a major airline operator in a joint venture dispute, in an ad hoc arbitration sited in Germany. Mr. Schwarz has also obtained a series of favorable awards in the firm's representation of a leading telecommunications company in a series of joint venture disputes in Eastern Europe, sited in Vienna; and has advised a multinational service company on investment protection claims against a Central European state.

    Mr. Schwarz has played a significant role in the firm's successful representation of a leading European telecommunications company in an arbitration involving the break-up of a joint venture—the considerable amounts involved in this dispute made it the largest ICC arbitration in history. He also represented a major telecommunications company in a multi-jurisdictional dispute over a joint venture company in Switzerland and helped to obtain a victory for the client in a highly-expedited procedure in less than three months.


  • Award Text

    Named a Top Lawyer for International Arbitration

    Chambers Global


  • Award Text

    Recognized as a Leading Arbitrator and Thought Leader

    Who's Who Legal: Arbitration


  • Award Text

    Recognized for International Arbitration

    The Best Lawyers in the United Kingdom


In January 2014, American Lawyer recognized partner Franz Schwarz as "Litigator of the Week," for his representation in Swatch Group v. Tiffany and “delivering a Christmas gift of [almost] half a billion dollar to Wilmer's client Swatch Group."

Mr. Schwarz has been awarded the inaugural Swiss Arbitration Association's (ASA) Prize for Advocacy in International Arbitration. The award, established in 2008, was given for the first time at ASA's annual conference in Geneva on 29 January 2010. The Prize is being awarded at regular intervals-and for the first time this year-to "recognize counsel who, through their exceptional talents in advocacy, contribute most effectively to the promotion of effective resolution of international commercial disputes through arbitration." In the award speech, Mr. Schwarz was praised as an "exceptional talent" in advocacy and "one of the best lawyers of his generation." For more information, see WilmerHale's press release and

Mr. Schwarz is the recipient of the American Arbitration Association's Distinguished Service Award "for his distinguished service and support of international arbitration and mediation."

Client and Peer Reviews

Mr. Schwarz is widely recognized as a leading practitioner in the field of international dispute resolution. For his work in the field, he has been included in the following client and peer reviews:

  • Named a Thomson Reuters Stand-out Lawyer – independently rated and selected by clients.
  • Frequently recommended by Chambers Global since 2009 in the fields of international arbitration and dispute resolution, which describes him as being "an extremely effective advocate" and "a real leader in the field." He is also recognized as a Foreign Expert in Austrian dispute resolution.
  • Recognized as a leader in the field of international arbitration in the 20112022 editions of Chambers Europe, which refers to him as "very talented" with a "great understanding of the relevant common and civil law, as well as the general EU law of the different institutions." 
  • Also recognized as a leader in the field of international arbitration in the 20082022 editions of Chambers UK, which describe him as "extremely well prepared, very experienced and a brilliant cross examiner of witnesses and experts," "very versatile" with a "great understanding of the relevant common and civil law," a "superb advocate" and "impressive and outstanding," an "extremely effective advocate," a "fantastic advocate who masters the facts of a case very well," a "superstar of the future" and also as a "convincing and dynamic individual, with a remarkably sharp mind" who "displays extraordinary strategic sense and masterful judgment."
  • Featured in Who's Who Legal: Arbitration (20082024) as a leading arbitrator. He was named a "Thought Leader" in the 2018–2024 editions, with sources describing him as a “very able practitioner who has established a strong public international law practice,” “super well known,” “one of the best advocates worldwide,” and “an excellent lawyer and arbitrator” who is “very creative, fair and balanced” in his approach. “He has extensive experience as both counsel and arbitrator in joint venture, M&A and project finance disputes.” Sources also say he is “definitely a prominent figure” in the market, “a very bright individual, an impressive lawyer and talented advocate,” and an “outstanding arbitrator.” He was named among the "Most Highly Regarded Individuals" under 45 in the world in the inaugural edition of Who's Who Legal: Arbitration - Future Leaders 2017, where he was described as "highly respected," with one respondent noting that "he gave one of the best cross-examinations I have ever seen."
  • Regularly recommended in The Legal 500 UK as an elite "Leading Lawyer" for dispute resolution: international arbitration and in 2020, he was described as widely respected and "tactically excellent." 
  • Selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in the United Kingdom since 2015 for his work in arbitration and mediation and international arbitration.
  • Recognized in Legal Media Group's The Best of the Best in 2009, 2011 and 2013 as among the world's 25 leading lawyers for international commercial arbitration. Also listed in The Best of the Best 2011 as a leading lawyer for litigation.
  • Featured in the Arbitration Report 2007 by Legal Business, which described him as "analytically and academically superb."
  • Named to the Lawdragon 500 Global Leading Litigators list, which recognizes lawyers who specialize in international arbitration, public international litigation and global controversies.

Insights & News


  • Education

    • MCIArb, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, 2001

    • LLM, London School of Economics and Political Science, 1999

      with Merits
    • Mag iur, University of Vienna School of Law, 1995

      Top of Class
  • Admissions

    • Rechtsanwalt, Austria

    • Solicitor, England and Wales

  • Languages

    • German

    • English



Unless you are an existing client, before communicating with WilmerHale by e-mail (or otherwise), please read the Disclaimer referenced by this link.(The Disclaimer is also accessible from the opening of this website). As noted therein, until you have received from us a written statement that we represent you in a particular manner (an "engagement letter") you should not send to us any confidential information about any such matter. After we have undertaken representation of you concerning a matter, you will be our client, and we may thereafter exchange confidential information freely.

Thank you for your interest in WilmerHale.